Sir John Oldcastle
Falstaff Falstaff prop. n. Sir John Falstaff, a celebrated character in Shakespeare's historical play " Henry IV." (1st and 2d parts), and also in " The Merry Wives of Windsor." He is a very fat, sensual, and witty old knight; a swindler, drunkard, and good-tempered liar; and something of a coward. Falstaff was originally called {Sir John Oldcastle}. The first actor of the part was John Heminge. [Century Dict. 1906]

Note: Shakespeare found the name of John Oldcastle in the ... older play of "Henry V."; in the Chronicle he found a John Oldcastle, who was page to the Duke of Norfolk who plays a part in "Richard II."; and this, according to Shakespeare, his Falstaff (Oldcastle) had been in his youth. When the poet wrote his "Henry IV." he knew not who this Oldcastle was, whom he had rendered so distinct with the designation as Norfolk's page; he was a Lord Cobham [Sir John Oldcastle, known as the good lord Cobham], who had perished as a Lollard and Wickliffite in the persecution of the church under Henry V. The Protestants regarded him as a holy martyr, the Catholics as a heretic; the latter seized with eagerness this description of the fat poltroon, and gave it out as a portrait of Lord Cobham, who was indeed physically and mentally his contrast. The family complained of this misuse of a name dear to them, and Shakespeare declared in the epilogue to "Henry IV." that Cobham was in his sight also a martyr, and that "this was not the man." At the same time, he changed the name to Falstaff, but this was of little use; in spite of the express retraction, subsequent Catholic writers on church history still declared Falstaff to be a portrait of the heretic Cobham. But it is a strange circumstance that even now under the name of Falstaff another historical character is again sought for, just as if it were impossible for such a vigorous form not to be a being of reality. It was referred to John Fastolfe, whose cowardice is more stigmatised in "Henry VI." than history justifies; and this too met with public blame, although Shakespeare could have again asserted that he intended Fastolfe as little as Cobham. --Gervinus, Shakespeare Commentaries (tr. by K E. Bunnett, [ed. 1880), p. 800. [Century Dict. 1906]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sir John Oldcastle — is an Elizabethan play about John Oldcastle, a controversial 14th 15th century rebel and Lollard who was seen by some of Shakespeare s contemporaries as a proto Protestant martyr. The play was originally published anonymously in 1600 (Q1),… …   Wikipedia

  • Sir John Oldcastle — John Oldcastle Sir John Oldcastle (v. 1378 – 14 décembre 1417), fut un leader Lollard anglais. Il fut jugé pour hérésie contre l Église, mais parvint à s échapper de la Tour de Londres. Capturé à nouveau, il fut exécuté, et devint un martyr. Il… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • John Oldcastle — Sir John Oldcastle (d. December 14, 1417), English Lollard leader, was son of Sir Richard Oldcastle of Almeley in northwest Herefordshire and grandson of another Sir John Oldcastle. He was prosecuted for heresy against the Church, and escaped… …   Wikipedia

  • John Oldcastle — (* 1378; † 14. Dezember 1417) war ein Anführer der englischen Lollarden. Oldcastle war ein Sohn von Richard Oldcastle. Unter Heinrich IV. nahm er ab 1400 an Feldzügen nach Schottland und Wales teil, während deren er sich die Freundschaft des… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • John Oldcastle — Sir John Oldcastle (v. 1378 – 14 décembre 1417), fut un leader Lollard anglais. Il fut jugé pour hérésie contre l Église, mais parvint à s échapper de la Tour de Londres. Capturé à nouveau, il fut exécuté, et devint un martyr. Il est… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Oldcastle, Sir John — (c. 1378–1417)    Rebel.    Oldcastle was born in Herefordshire and he later became Lord Cobham. He was known to be a follower of John wycliffe and in 1413 he was accused of heresy. He escaped from imprisonment in the Tower of London and he led a …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Oldcastle, Sir John — ▪ English soldier born c. 1378, , Herefordshire, Eng. died Dec. 14, 1417, London       distinguished soldier and martyred leader of the Lollards (Lollard), a late medieval English sect derived from the teachings of John Wycliffe. He was an… …   Universalium

  • Oldcastle,Sir John — Old·cas·tle (ōldʹkăs əl, kä səl), Sir John. Lord Cobham. 1377? 1417. English Lollard conspirator who was burned alive for heresy. * * * …   Universalium

  • OLDCASTLE, SIR JOHN —    Lord Cobham, distinguished himself in arms under Henry IV. in 1411, embraced Lollardism, which he could not be prevailed on to renounce, though remonstrated with by Henry V.; was tried for heresies and committed to the Tower, but escaped to… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Falstaff, Sir John — ▪ fictional character       one of the most famous comic characters in all English literature, who appears in four of Shakespeare s plays. Entirely the creation of Shakespeare, Falstaff is said to have been partly modeled on Sir John Oldcastle… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”